No. Not the Hamar house on campus; Hamar, Norway. It's 3,750 miles as the crow flies from the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton to the Vikingskipet Arena on the shore of Lake Mjøsa. Toss in a few stops in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and the southwestern Swedish city of Gothenburg and you've taken yourself on quite the trip. You'd also be following behind former Husky winger Mikael Lickteig. Playing for Tech starting in the '09-10 season until '12-13, Lickteig's sporting career took bit of a turn after leaving Houghton. If you took the same trip you could catch games played by the Dinkytown Dukes, Surte BK, and Hamar IL. You'd not be watching ice hockey though… You'd be watching Bandy.
So what exactly is Bandy? The simplest explanation, according to Lickteig, would be that it is "basically hockey with a ball with soccer rules," but of course that's a simplification. The field is between 148–213' by 300–360' (about the same size as a soccer field) with goals that are 11' by 6'11" on each end and may be an outdoor or indoor venue. The player's equipment is similar to hockey with a few exceptions. The stick is more like a field hockey stick and the goalie isn't allowed to have one at all. The skates are different, too and was a source of frustration for Lickteig's transition to the sport. This short video gives a great overview of the sport and the rules:
In the USA, the sport is centered around Twin Cities of Minnesota with the USA Bandy sanctioned Elite League, an all-amateur league in which most of Team USA players currently play. That's right, Team USA. Lickteig is a regular for the team in international competition and you'll usually find him on the scoresheet. This breakaway goal against Russia at the 2015 World Championship in Khabarovsk, Russia is a great finish.
He had another good tournament in 2016, this time in Ulyanovsk, Russia, with 6 goals, including another against Russia in the quarter-finals. Four of those goals came in the group stage. His first of the competition came in the 43rd minute against Latvia off a quick break from a Latvian corner. Jump to 1:04 in the video to see the goal. Team USA would go on to win the game 11-1.
Game 2 proved to be a tough match as Team USA was shut out 7-0 by Norway, but things would tighten up again in Game 3. Scoring three goals, LIckteig officially provided half of the scoring in a close 7-6 loss to group-winners Belarus. A simple tap in off of a pass across the goal month started off the scoring. The second credited goal does appear to be scored by Michael Carmen after Lickteig's shot, but was announced for Lickteig by the arena announcer even though the TV crew catches the correct goal scorer. Goal three comes from the penalty spot after what appears to be an illegal use of the hand on the corner. The goals were in the 26rd, 66th and 85th minutes (or starting the video at 33:00, 1:36:00, and 1:54:00). He'd have another opportunity to even the game at 7 in stoppage time with three Belorussians off with penalties, but was whistled offsides before a shot could be taken.
Team USA competes in the top group of the tournament against the best teams in the world and scoring against the Russians is no small feat. They only gave up 18 goals the entire tournament on the way to winning their 10th title. The 7th place playoff is particularly important as the winner remains in top group while the losing 8th place team is relegated to the second tier of the Championship. Lickteig was once again on the scoresheet with a goal in the 15-0 win over Latvia.
The 2017 tournament will be held in Sandviken, Sweden from Jan. 29th-Feb. 5th and Lickteig will be there representing Team USA once again as they look to continue to improve their position in the world's top group. We'll be sure to post more info on the tournament as it gets closer. It's a nice short trip for Lickteig from Hamar to Sandviken and we wish Mikael the best of luck in both the Team USA and Hamar IL jerseys!
Alumni of the Fortnight
Following Tim's lead with the recruits I'll also be picking an Alum who's been in the news lately. My pick this week goes to Brett Olson, currently playing for EC Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian EBEL (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga). In 30 games he has an impressive 7-23-30 stat line which is good for eighth the league overall and third in assists. He and former WCHA opponent Ryan Duncan set a EBEL record for the fastest 2-0 lead in a game with two goals in the first 32 seconds of the game. Olson's goal and reaction can be seen here.
Cover photo courtesy of Andrew Knutson.